The push to the NHL playoffs heats up as the calendar flips to April

Rangers Capitals NHL
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 25: T.J. Oshie #77 of the Washington Capitals is checked by Jacob Trouba #8 and Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers during the second period at Capital One Arena on February 25, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Saturday, April 1st – 3:30 pm Eastern – SiriusXM 91
Boston Bruins at Pittsburgh Penguins

It’s been a charmed season for the Boston Bruins. They niftily skated around a rash of injuries early in the campaign and have since led the entire league from post to post. This afternoon, the B’s face a Penguins team that is fighting tooth-and-nail to qualify yet again for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pittsburgh hasn’t missed the post-season cut since 2005-06 (Sidney Crosby’s rookie season), but they also have only won one playoff series since last winning the Stanley Cup in the spring of 2017.

Sunday, April 2nd – 1 pm Eastern – SiriusXM 91
New York Rangers at Washington Capitals

It’s a tale of two teams this afternoon, as the Rangers are headed to the post-season, while it appears the Capitals will be on the sidelines this time around (they last sat out the playoffs in 2013-14). Did New York do enough to set up a long playoff run this spring? Are the Capitals ready to go through some potentially tough years in order to return to the top of the heap, or can they turn this ship around quickly? And Caps superstar Alex Ovechkin is always worth the price of admission as he closes in on Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record of 894 regular-season goals. The Capitals haven’t won a playoff round since hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2018; the Rangers took care of the Penguins and Hurricanes last spring before falling in 6 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final.

Monday, April 3rd – 8 pm Eastern – SiriusXM 91
Vegas Golden Knights at Minnesota Wild

Two of the battleship teams in the Western Conference exchange fire this evening in the State of Hockey.  The Wild have been involved in a season-long battle for first in the tough Central Division, while the Golden Knights have found themselves ensconced in a similar slugfest in the Pacific Division. Vegas missed the playoffs by 3 points last year, while Minnesota fell in 6 games in the opening round to the St. Louis Blues.

Tuesday, April 4th – 10:30 pm Eastern – SiriusXM 91
Edmonton Oilers at Los Angeles Kings

Is this a preview of a first-round playoff match in a few weeks’ time? If we’re lucky. Last April, the Oilers got by the Kings in seven games, including rebounding from a 3-2 deficit in the series. This time around, Los Angeles believes they are a better team. The Oilers also believe they’re a better team, and the addition of defenceman Mattias Ekholm has certainly been a welcome addition. Is their goaltending steady enough to steer The Good Ship Oil to the Stanley Cup Final?

Wednesday, April 5th – 7:30 pm Eastern – SiriusXM 91
Calgary Flames at Winnipeg Jets

It’s a Wednesday night Play-In game as the Jets and Flames both scramble for the wild card crumbs in the Western Conference. Winnipeg missed the playoff cut last season by 8 points, while the Flames finished atop the Pacific Division before bowing out in 5 games in the second round to the rival Edmonton Oilers.  Since relocating from Atlanta in the summer of 2011, this edition of the Winnipeg Jets has only been victorious in playoff series on three occasions.

Thursday, April 6th – 7 pm Eastern – SiriusXM 91
Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins

The top two teams in the Atlantic Division square off tonight in Boston. Both teams have been seemingly tidally locked into their respective divisional slots for months, so both teams are trying to stay fresh, alert, and injury free. Could this be a preview of a second-round playoff matchup this spring?  Boston last won the Stanley Cup in 2011; Toronto last won a playoff round in 2004.

Friday, April 7th – NO GAMES THIS EVENING

The NHL takes a rare night off this Friday evening but returns tomorrow with all 32 teams in action.